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Life 2.0: UJ solar distillation solution shines at 2019 Ericsson Innovation Awards

Life 2.0 is a sustainable solution to electricity production from a student team at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). They have proposed a solar distillation innovation which uses sand, the sun’s solar system, heat transfer, and water catchment to produce electricity through an overflow pipe with an accompanying battery.

Global multinational networking and telecommunications company Ericsson is running its 2019 Ericsson Innovation Award competition and three University of Johannesburg (UJ) students showcased their innovative idea at the contest. The UJ team’s Life 2.0 project was selected as the top 15 globally out of the 2000 team projects that took part in the competition. Life 2.0 is introduced as a competitive, affordable clean water purification system that can be used in both developed and developing countries alike.

The UJ team submitted a video, a presentation and a two-page concept document to the judges of the competition in Sweden. Their device is a portable easy-to-use cylinder that purifies dirty water and desalinates sea water.

The world is currently facing dwindling water sources whilst there is an ever-increasing demand for water. These challenges call for innovations that will not only work at large scale but require small-scale portable solutions. Additionally, water crisis globally affects people of all classes and creed and, according to the UJ students, a solution for this should apply to all those in need.

“The global clean water challenges made us look at the environment around us, the African continent and the world at large, for solutions. We concluded that our solution should make access to clean water easier for all people and that clean water sources will improve lives. Thus, we coined our innovation idea ‘Life 2.0’. The team’s drive is individual pursuits for a common goal of using knowledge acquired, and eagerness to learn new smart ideas in order to positively contribute to improving humanity,” says Singatha Xaba, a member of Life 2.0 and a Bachelor of Engineering Technology student in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) at UJ.

The UJ team comprised two undergraduate students Xaba and Valentine Wati (also a Mechanical Engineering student), as well as postgraduate student, Colani Fakude, enrolled in Chemistry.

Xaba says that it is enticing for his team participated in a global solutions-based competition with competitors from various parts of the word. “Also, competing at the global stage with great mentors is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we cherish. Life 2.0 will improve access to clean water for all income groups at an affordable price with about three products planned within the next five years. Most importantly, this is aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” says Xaba.

“We were the only team that made the cut from Africa. We represented UJ and we strongly believe our innovation can be scalable globally. Although we could not reach the Top 4 global finalists, it was a gratifying experience and confidence booster for us,” says Xaba.

The Top 4 teams will be competing in Stockholm, Sweden for the top spot and the grand prize of 25,000 Euros.

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